Sep 152014


Soft-spoken lighting. A single waitress,
white-capped and still. I’m the only customer.
The waitress could be sixteen or sixty
and this was once a ritual bathhouse.
Earlier today, I jumped on a bus to the camp
and did The Official Tour:
suitcases, bunks and hopeful letters home.
The starter is carp: salty, sly, exquisite.
I eat, the waitress smiles,
I eat some more, the waitress smiles.
I put my knife down, keep the fork in my hand.
I think about the Stamford Hill girls’ laughter and their wigs,
she takes the plate away.
There is no rabbinical supervision here,
the website said.
Once upon a time in Kazimierz, the fog outside
was sweet and held love and adventure.
Earlier today I let the nice young couple
walk into the shower block ahead of me.
They both seemed grateful
and our guide was young, keen, factual.
Music starts: a yearning fiddle and a glass-sharp, ancient voice.
I ask the waitress who it is. She writes the name down
and the song title. It was, she says,
written by a man who lost his sister in that place.
I didn’t cry or anything today. I don’t cry now
and, for a moment, I think I hear women’s whispers:
nothing between them and the waters and God.
In the photograph, the grinning doctor
on the railway platform was pointing.
Those fit enough: to the right and then work and then death.
Those not fit enough: to the left and then death.
A sip of the Galician red, I think.
The waitress brings my main course: stuffed goose necks.
We all have to try something once
and they obey the rules of kosherness here,
the website said.
I gulp down the goose necks and wonder
which way the doctor would have pointed
when he saw me.

 Posted by at 10:40 pm
Sep 012014


i love the rain
but then i think
‘what if it never stopped?’





Shared nownesses with eggs
And sweet thisnesses of bacon
Caffeinated voices rising high
Over Suns folded on checked tables
Floats of milkmen swearing
Declaring Nigel Farage a patriot Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:27 pm
Jun 192014



I’m not sure exactly when it was I first thought of you. It was some time that summer, the one I wasted so brilliantly – swimming, liking girls from a safe distance and wishing I was Jairzinho. Somewhere else, across the sea, your mother was strolling down country roads, sitting dreaming by furze bushes, waiting for your song to arrive. When it came, she kept that song for ten years, then another ten, kept it for you. And then, when I met her, she taught it to me. I changed some of the words; the melody was forever. We sang the song together, her and me, the morning we invited you into our world; nine months later I heard it in your cries, a year later in your first laugh. As time passed, we taught your song to our friends and family. When life hurt you, someone would sing your song to you, ease you and hold you with it. When you started to do all the things we knew you would, when you won something, when you passed something, whenever our gods smiled on you: we sang it then too. You fell over once and we sang your song; we sang it on that first day at school. And when you did something wrong or hurt anyone, when the world’s disinterest seemed unjust and you tried to set it right, we sang your song more lovingly, more warmly, sang it louder and clearer. Soon, you will think of a child yourself, head out and away from the world for a while; you too will wait for a child’s song to come to you. When it comes, you’ll welcome it. I hope I have a chance to sing that one too.





 Posted by at 6:59 pm
May 092014




Old dunes hide us. Spoon-curved sand glides over ages
to the sea. The edges of the world stay visible, this time.

Blindly we grope for kindness, lying – gentled and oxidised
by hope – with the bones of the bent-spined land that formed us.

The place we were born in has gone. A mother cries for her child
as you take my hand: one sun in the sky, one still on the ground.


Canvey Island

On the pier the sea-tired wood creaks.
Night waits and the far-off, blue-red rage
Of the terminal roars in horizoned silence.
Sometimes, wherever I am, you’re there.


The Mistimed Hook

For a moment, for your whole lifetime
I hang over England, over the pitch,
Over your fluttering eyes, over your future.

Red-scarred leather, I wink at a gull,
Wink at heaven and earth,
Hang for one more moment.

I hear your friends’ cries: ‘Catch it!’
And at that point I know.
Newton shoots me down,
Quick as disappointment,
Towards your eager hands.

I grab your half-smile
And let you embrace me
For the last time.



You took me in your morning hands
And wondered whether to read me.
My sheets sat crinkled, imperfect,
My skin stained with ink and time.

Once, you’d taken me to bed with you
And watched me in the bath, on a beach,
Stared at words and a heart
You could never understand.

Now and suddenly I’m not quite good enough
And you shove my flaws back in your bag
Decide to lie about me instead.


 Posted by at 3:59 pm

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